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Date: Tue 31 Mar 2020
Source: PhysOrg [abridged, edited]
A new fennel fungal disease caused by a new genus and species, _Ochraceocephala foeniculi_, was observed for the 1st time in 2017 on 5% of the "Apollo" fennel cultivar grown in sampled localities in Catania province, Italy. Now it has spread to 2 more cultivars, causing crop losses of around 20-30%. The new pathogen damages the fennel with necrotic lesions on the crown, root, and stem. The fungal species obtained from symptomatic tissues was identified based on morphological characteristics and molecular phylogenetic analyses, resulting in the description of the pathogen.
According to pathogenicity tests, _O. foeniculi_ causes symptoms on artificially inoculated plants. Preliminary evaluation of fennel germplasm according to the susceptibility to the new disease shows that some cultivars are more susceptible and some less, but this is yet to be confirmed. More studies are required in order to plan effective disease management strategies.
On the basis of the disease incidence and severity observed in the field, [the scientists] believe that this disease represents a serious threat to fennel crops in Sicily and may become a major problem also to other areas of fennel production if accidentally introduced.
[Source paper: <https://mycokeys.pensoft.net/article/48389/>]
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[Fennel (_Foeniculum vulgare_; family Apiaceae) is grown for use as vegetable (fleshy stems of some varieties), flavouring (e.g., in liquorice), tea, or spice (seeds or leaves). Other crops in the family include carrot, celery, dill, parsley, and parsnip.
The new fungal genus reported above has so far been placed in the family of Leptosphaeriaceae, which includes a number of known pathogens of crop and ornamental species. Further work will be needed to determine if it can also affect crops other than fennel, in the Apiaceae or different families.
Italy (including provinces):
_O. foeniculi_ symptoms on fennel:
OF cultures & microscopy of fungal structures:
Leptosphaeriaceae, taxonomy and information: